Saturday, October 24, 2015

What's Scarier, The Halloween Costume OR The Allergic Response?

We are nearing Halloween.  Did you buy a costume yet?  If you haven't, it would be worth your time to consider which costumes and makeup use the most safe ingredients. Many Halloween costumes and makeup contain chemicals that are toxic for everyone....allergy or not!

WebMD predicts that approximately 10% of the people will experience an allergic reaction to cosmetics in their lifetime.  Parents need to carefully consider that the quality of Halloween cosmetics is more important than a low price.  The lower the price for Halloween cosmetics, the greater the risk that toxins may be present. tested many Halloween costumes and related products.  And the findings were interesting:

"We found that seasonal products, like thousands of other products we have tested, are often full of dangerous chemicals," according to Jeff Gearhart, research director at "Poorly regulated toxic chemicals consistently show up in seasonal products. Hazardous chemicals in consumer products pose unnecessary and avoidable health hazards to children, consumers, communities, workers and our environment."
Our testing found heavy metals and other additives are commonly found in Halloween costumes and accessories. These chemicals include lead, flame retardants, tin compounds and phthalates -- harmful chemicals that are linked to asthma, reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer.

Halloween costumes and makeup may contain lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), phthalates, arsenic, and tin (organotins). 


What Kind of Allergic Response Can Happen 

With Halloween Costumes?

Mayo Clinic, reports that allergic contact dermatitis happens when a person comes into regular contact with a substance they are sensitive or allergic to. In the case of Halloween costumes, metal accessories that rub on the skin could present a problem for some people.  This also must be considered for Halloween makeup, which goes directly onto the skin (the largest organ in the body).
In other words, parents really MUST consider the quality of the products they choose for Halloween costumes and accessories. One other tip MayoClinic suggests is to wear such accessories over clothing (to avoid skin contact) or to avoid purchasing such items at all.



Halloween Makeup Risks

Joel Schlessinger ia a board-certified dermatologist and adviser.  Schelssinger says that costume makeup often contains artificial dyes, fragrances, waxes and oils, all of which can clog pores, cause breakouts and irritate skin.
"Theater makeup is made with higher quality ingredients and has less risk of skin irritation. Most theater makeup has the same high pigment payoff, but it's designed to sit on the skin for long periods of time and tends to be gentler on skin. These cosmetics are also FDA-approved and free of harmful ingredients like lead"
  As with any unfamiliar makeup, you'll always want to perform a patch test on your neck or the underside of your arm to make sure you won't have a negative reaction," he added. "If you see signs of irritation, avoid putting the makeup on your face. Don't hesitate to see a doctor if the costume makeup gives your skin an itchy or blistering rash."

P.S. from Pam-Iron Oxide is one of my allergic trigger ingredients.  MOST cosmetics and makeup contain Iron Oxide as the coloring agent.  So if you have the same allergy as I do, AVOID Halloween makeup!!! The same goes for face painting.


Alternatives would be to use paint and pencils made from clay or other natural ingredients, or make your own.

 Answer this question: Would you put Crazy Glue or Elmer's Glue on your face? NO way!  Those glues can damage your complexion.  Buy only glues and adhesives that are approved for stage and theater use. When you apply fake eyelashes, be careful to keep the eyelash glue out of your eyes AND to avoid gluing your eyelids shut. A surprise trip to the emergency room would certainly ruin Halloween!

Fake Blood and Skin
Fake blood is often made with red dye and a petroleum base that can cause irritation to the skin. A better bet would be to make your own fake blood by using corn syrup, flour, and food coloring.
As far as fake/prosthetic skin, you can avoid skin irritation by buying higher quality theater props. The fake skin or prosthetics you will find in the party store will probably cause irritation.  Be aware that most of these products contain latex.  So be sure you aren't allergic to latex before you buy them.

Read more of Joel Schlessigner's advice here.

Do you want to check to see some of the costumes tested?  Use this link. 

Have a happy and healthy Halloween!


Saturday, October 17, 2015

iWatch, FitBit and Other Wearable Technology Risks Contact Dermatitis

Wearable technology, such as the FitBit and iWatch have made our lives much easier.  Wrist-worn devices like the Up, Force and Flex also offer water proof wearability. How great is it to be able to keep track of your heartrate, the calories burned, your blood pressure and your GPS location with one little item that is strapped onto your wrist? What a great way to save time and effort!

Wearable Technology Could Save Our Health

Wearable Technology

The Fitbit Force has been a  popular trend of wearable tech that was recently recalled.
The Fitbit Force wearable is officially off the market as of mid-Mar 2014, due to complaints of skin irritation, blistering, and contact dermatitis. Over 1 million FitBit units sold in the U.S. and Canada since October 2013. Since then, nearly 10,000 complaints of blistering and skin irritation were reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Based on our investigation, we are now confident that our users who experienced allergic contact dermatitis likely reacted either to very small levels of methacrylates, which were part of the adhesives used to manufacture Force or, to a lesser degree, nickel in the stainless steel casing,” read an open letter from Fitbit CEO and co-founder James Park.

Fitbit is offering a refund for customers who have experienced skin irritation caused by the device. Here is the company's full statement:
"We are looking into reports from a very limited number of Fitbit Force users who have been experiencing skin irritation, possibly as a result of an allergy to nickel, an element of surgical-grade stainless steel used in the device.
We suggest that consumers experiencing any irritation discontinue using the product and contact Fitbit at if they have additional questions. Customers may also contact Fitbit for an immediate refund or replacement with a different Fitbit product.
We are sorry that even a few consumers have experienced these problems and assure you that we are looking at ways to modify the product so that anyone can wear the Fitbit Force comfortably. We will continue to update our customers with the latest information."

One possibility for the skin irritations  is that users are wearing the Fitbit through the day, when sweat, soap and moisturizers are being trapped under the smartband, causing “contact dermatitis.”

The FitBit Help FAQ site has this statement:
Because Fitbit received reports of skin irritation from a small percentage of Force users, we have decided to stop sales of Force and conduct a voluntary recall. 

The iWatch Also Has Some User Complaints 

About Skin Irritation


Apple's iWatch Manual has the following statement:
Some versions of the watch and wristlets contain nickel and methacrylates. This is quite natural for a product of such type, and should not cause any problems, but if you are sensitive to these materials, you’d better reject magnetic wristlets.
If your skin becomes red, in case of edema, itch and other symptoms of irritation or allergic reaction, Apple recommends to contact your doctor before wearing the watch again.

Is There Any Other Explanation For 

Skin Rash Tied to Wearable Technology?

Some experts say that trapped moisture and bacteria are the most likely causes of the rash, not the nickel. Wearable technology like the Up, Force and Flex advertise their ability to be immersed in water.  So many users simply never take them off, even in the shower.

Dermatologist J. Todd Williams, M.D. explained, "there is one type of dermatitis called 'irritant' dermatitis that just comes from irritation from water/sweat etc..." So basically, a build up of moisture (and bacterial growth) is kept tight against the skin.  This can cause sores and rashes on those with particularly sensitive skin. These are likely the same people who  commonly experience similar reactions to watchbands, bracelets and rings. For instance, Williams says, newlyweds often complain of irritation from water being trapped under their rings while washing dishes. For the newlyweds, both experiences may be new: wearing the wedding ring and doing more domestic chores.

 The National Institute of Health says mild cases of allergic contact dermatitis can take days or weeks to disappear.  People experiencing  persistent rash and skin irritation should consult a dermatologist.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Help...I am allergic to my Musical Instrument

 Creating music is a satisfying way to bring beauty into our lives.  Some of us enjoy play musical instruments as a hobby, while others earn a living this way.

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent ― Victor Hugo 

What happens if you are allergic to 

your career or your hobby?

  Whether you are a weekend musician or a professional, there is a risk that you develop Contact Dermatitis by the musical instrument. (Read about Contact Dermatitis HERE)

Contact Dermatitis can be caused by cosmetics, metals, & jewelry.  Musical instruments present another source of irritation, since some of the components of instruments have metals that come in contact with the skin.

Although musical instruments are classified as Brass, Woodwinds, Percussion, and so on, most of them contain nickel on some areas.  And when there is ongoing skin contact with nickel, there is a greater risk for dermatitis to occur. 



Brass instruments (flute, trombone, trumpet, tuba)
  • Metals found in the instruments, such as nickel, cobalt, palladium, silver and gold, can cause contact dermatitis.
  • Lip swelling can result from the pressure of forcing air through instrument mouthpieces.
  • Infections of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA and non-MRSA) and herpes simplex virus can spread through the sharing of mouthpieces.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis A, B and C also can be spread if instruments are not cleaned properly.

Woodwind instruments (bassoon, clarinet, oboe, saxophone)

  • A variety of specific allergens are responsible for irritant contact dermatitis in these musicians.
    • Cane reeds
    • Chromium
    • Cobalt
    • Exotic woods
    • Nickel
  • Lip swelling, infections and the spread of viruses (as described above) also can occur from playing these instruments.

String instruments (cellos, violas, violins)

  • The composition of these instruments and products used with these instruments may contain allergens that can cause contact dermatitis in musicians.
    • Chromium
    • Exotic woods
    • Nickel
    • Paraphenylenediamine (staining agent for woods)
    • Propolis (bee glue), a component of Italian varnishes used in all Stradivarius violins
    • Rosin
                   Musicians At Risk For Common Skin Condition

I strongly suspect that many brass players actually may have borderline metal contact allergies but they just attribute the symptoms of feeling stiff or rubbery or general loss of control on just being “a bad day.” There are bad days to be sure, but the point to make very clearly to readers is that not every bad day is the result of overplaying or a bad warm-up or whatever. It really could be a metal sensitivity kicking in.
           John Ericson    Horn Matters

I have nickel allergy,  how do I

 avoid dermatitis from my musical instrument?
  • Limit exposure to nickel, ask prior to purchasing if the instrument contains nickel, nickel plate, or copper/nickel alloy in the areas that will be in prolonged contact with the skin. If unsure, question sales personnel or manufacturers.  You may be allowed test items with Nickel Alert prior to purchase.
  • The parts of musical instruments with which you have ongoing direct contact should be tested for nickel content. Wash mouthpieces after testing.
  • Nickel Alert is safe to use as directed on any metal item.
  • Consider testing: Keys, mouthpieces, guitar and cello strings, and tuners.

Perspiration from heat and humidity aid the transfer of nickel salts—the true culprit of nickel allergy—and increases the symptoms of the allergy.

 So HOW Can I Keep Playing My Horn IF I Am Allergic To It?

 1. Make a change-if the musical instrument causes irritation due to friction or pressure, change the area of contact. For instance, wear protective gloves to reduce irritation to the fingers.

2. Find a replacement-if the musical instrument causes Contact Dermatitis, substitute that component.  Mouthpieces and guitar strings are available in different compositions that avoid nickel.

 Resources for Nickel-Free Mouthpiece Alternatives 


    Giddings and Webster Mouthpieces

    Producing a complete line of mouthpieces for

    Trumpet, Cornet, French Horn, Trombone, Euphonium, and Tuba
    Manufactured from the finest materials, making mouthpieces of the highest quality.
    Using surgical grade stainless steel and  titanium for our instrument mouthpieces.
    Played in professional orchestras, concert bands, marching bands, community bands, brass bands,
    jazz band, drum corps international, colleges, and highs schools.
    From amateur to avid pro Giddings and Webster has your mouthpiece needs covered.

Kelly Mouthpieces offers mouthpieces that are Stainless Steel, Silver Plated, and Plastic






    It is important to reduce/eliminate further exposure to Nickel, once the skin shows irritation or Contact Dermatitis.  Further exposure will cause more frequent  and more severe allergic response.




    Have you experienced an allergic response to a musical instrument?  Do you have other resources to recommend? I would love to hear from you.




    Saturday, October 3, 2015

    Hyposensitization for Nickel and Iron Oxide Allergies

    You're allergic to Nickel and Iron Oxide?!
    Isn't there an allergy shot for that?

    I heard those questions so many times from people who really cared about my struggles.  It's possible that many friends were surprised that an allergy to Nickel and Iron Oxide would flare up in my eyes, of all places.


    And oh, how I searched and hoped that there was some kind of allergy shot, like the way people with hay fever are treated.  It is a great way to build the immune system.  But the mainstream answer to the question is "No, there isn't any allergy shot for this allergy."



      The following video contains information about allergies in general.  And I believe there are some points that can apply to Nickel and Iron Oxide Allergies.

      Attilio Speciani is an Allergist and Immunologist (Master in Milan University in 1990) ; Anaesthesiologist and E.R. Doctor (Master in Milan University 1982); Professor of Nutrition for two different Universities (Bologna, and Milan)
    and is teaching in Milan for the "Master in Phytotherapy" and in Bologna for the "Master in Phytotherapy in Gastroenterology".




    So is there new information on something that works like an allergy shot for Nickel Allergy?


    Administration of a graded series of doses of an allergen to atopic subjects suffering from immediate-type hypersensitivity to it. This must be done with great care to avoid anaphylactic reactions. The aim is to increase the level of specific IgG antibodies and/ or to diminish the level of IgE antibodies

    Hyposensitization with Oral Nickel

    Studies have confirmed the role and benefit of hyposensitization with oral nickel in nickel allergy. It has been noted that oral tolerance to nickel sensitization can be obtained by feeding with nickel sulfate in nickel sensitive individual, and this has opened a new area of investigation for the treatment of nickel allergy. The suggested mechanism for oral hypo- sensitization in nickel-sensitive individual is the stimulation of the suppresser T-cell production by antigen excess.

    In two controlled studies (each including 24 patients with contact allergy to nickel), where each patient was orally treated with 5.0 mg nickel sulfate once a week for 6 weeks, the degree of contact allergy, measured as patch test reactions before and after nickel administration, was noted to be lowered significantly.  In a different study,  where 30 nickel sensitive cases were treated with oral nickel sulfate in a dose of 0.1 ng/day following a low nickel diet, showed complete disappearance of the symptoms after 1 year of treatment in 29 cases; the remaining patient showed a partial alleviation of symptoms. Oral provocation tests with these 30 patients showed an overall increase of tolerance. Patch tests showed no variation in the 20 cases; a diminution was observed in 5 cases and the patch tests were negative in 5. Similar type of results were obtained by Bagot et al .
                 Relationship Between Nickel Allergy And Diet

    And another study is reported by Dr. Juan Carlos Ivancevich

    In 2009, our group performed a clinical trial of oral hyposensitization therapy with low doses of nickel in 67 patients affected by systemic allergy to this sensitizer. All patients reported a significant benefit in regard to both cutaneous and systemic symptoms, with the reduction or absence of itching and partial or complete clearing of ACD after the first 4 weeks of treatment. In fact, 70% of the patients completed the increasing phase (10 weeks) and the maintaining phase with the following results after the reintroduction of a nickel-free diet: 67% reported a complete remission of symptoms; in 23%, a clinical improvement was noted, with the rare appearance of cutaneous or digestive symptoms of lower intensity; and three patients also reported a reduction in weight. Adverse reactions were observed only in 18 patients: 12 patients with primary cutaneous dermatitis reported mild itching, and 6 patients with gastrointestinal manifestations reported digestive disorders of low intensity.
    This systemic therapy led to favorable results both in regard to cutaneous symptoms and in regard to gastrointestinal histologic modifications induced by nickel allergy, in contrast to all other therapies that could only act on the dermatitis.
               Topical and Systemic Therapies for Nickel Allergy

    Researchers Have Discovered That A Homeopathic Psoriasis Treatment Helps With Hyposensitization Of Nickel Allergy

     A Tulsa Dermatologist, Dr. Steven A. Smith, MD, FACP, was searching for a better way to treat patients with nickel jewelry allergy.  He  formulated Psorizide(R) Forte. "Psorizide(R) Forte is a prescription, biochemical homeopathic tablet that is safe and completely steroid free."

    A clinical case study treating nickel allergic patients with oral nickel (Psorizide(R) Forte) has been completed with positive results. 81 percent (48 out of 59) successfully completed a 6 week course of nickel desensitization. All patients available for post-study analysis, 11 out of 11 (100 percent), stated that their nickel jewelry reaction had improved markedly. All patients were able to wear costume jewelry without any allergic reaction (data on file). "Psorizide(R) Forte is an effective, inexpensive, safe, and easy to use, unique prescription treatment. It is the first alternative treatment developed in decades for this problem and the only one that reverses the root cause," Dr. Smith said.  

    Dermatologist Discovers 'Oral Nickel' Cures Most Common Jewelry Allergies


     Hyposensitization for Nickel Allergy has been around since 1987.  It seems to have moved from the research phase to available treatment.  So it looks like a treatment worth discussing with my doctor. 

    Have you been treated with Hyposensitization therapy? I would be interested in your experiences.

    Saturday, September 26, 2015

    What Happens When A Celebrity Has Nickel Allergy? (Nickel Plating)

    Many times, I tend to feel sorry for myself....that I have Nickel and Iron Oxide Allergies.  It is easy to see celebrities on TV or in movies and think, "They are so lucky! Their lives are PERFECT! They get dressed up in designer clothes, get to wear high priced jewelry and do everything!  I can't do all that because of my allergy!"

    It turns out that quite a few celebrities have allergies of various kinds.  So are there any celebrities who have nickel allergy?

    Meet Jeremy Clarkson: Nickel Allergy Sufferer

    Jeremy Clarkson, British writer and former host of BBC's Top Gear, has an allergy to nickel.  Like many of the rest of us, Jeremy realized he had the allergy when he developed scabs and a rash on his legs.  Apparently the rivets in his jeans irritated his skin.  And whenever Jeremy appeared on Top Gear, he always wore denim jeans.  Denim jeans has been a trademark for Jeremy.

    This allergy is pretty ironic, since Jeremy's claim to fame is sourced in his love of cars.  Cars and car knowledge is Jeremy's other trademark. And considering that cars contain a lot of metal (duh,) working with cars risk a lot of exposure and the chances of contact dermititis.

    One of the steps Jeremy has taken to prevent further exposure to nickel is to apply nail varnish on the metal car parts that tend to contain nickel.  In general,  only batteries and a few other parts contain nickel. However, many car parts have Nickel Plating.

    So How Is Nickel Plating Used?

    Nickel plating can be used for a variety of different things.
    - It creates a corrosion resistant coating that will protect the base metal from oxidizing and rusting. It is frequently used in food processing to prevent contamination with iron.
    - It can increase the hardness and thus the durability of mechanical parts and tools.
    - It can allow you to solder to difficult metals.
    - It can create a variety of beautiful decorative finishes that range from a chrome-like gleam, to brushed stainless steel color, to a metallic black. It just so happens that black nickel plating is used frequently in aerospace applications
    - In thicker platings, it can make the object magnetic.


    Nickel metal is used to provide hard-wearing decorative and engineering coatings as 'nickel-plating' or 'electroless nickel coating' or 'electroforming'. When used with a top layer of chromium, it is popularly known as 'chrome-plating'. When done in combination with silicon carbide it is known as composite plating.
    Nickel is a key part of several rechargeable battery systems used in electronics, power tools, transport and emergency power supply. Most important today are nickel-metal hydride (NiMH).
    Where & Why Nickel Is Used

     Jeremy Clarkson does not let nickel allergy 

    or anything else slow him down

    Just take a look at this statement he made:
    “No really. If you only have seven years left, that means the Reaper will be dropping round for tea and buns in about 61,000 hours from now. You therefore shouldn’t be wasting time by pootling to the garden centre at walking pace. So come on, grandad. The clock’s ticking. Pedal to the metal. Or you’ll be in your flowerbed before the plants you bought.”
    ― Jeremy Clarkson

    Not many things will hold him down.  On March 24, 2015 BBC announced that  Jeremy Clarkson has officially been fired as the host of Top Gear following a fight with a producer of the show, Oisin Tymon. Yet in the wake of this, it seems unlikely that Jeremy Clarkson will be ending his writing career or his career with the car industry.

    Throughout the years, Jeremy Clarkson has been a controversial celebrity. He has made many statements that have turned the public opinion against him.  However, he has the winning attitude that it takes to overcome Nickel Allergy in a Nickel Plated World. 

    Thanks for stopping by!  Please leave a comment and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    Supplements Can Help OR Hurt Nickel Allergies

    Does Nickel Show Up In 
    Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements?

    Some people take vitamins, while others don't.  I am a hefty vitamin/supplement consumer!
    Each night my palm is heaped with various vitamins. And in the morning I take a smaller portion of about 8 supplements.  All of it really seems to help me manage hay fever, allergic responses, along with colds and flu.

    It concerned me that nickel might be contained in my daily supplements.  After all,  I could be working really hard to avoid skin contact with nickel and iron oxide, but then defeat all this effort by consuming something that causes other reactions. 

    The first direction I went to seek answers was with my friendly health food store owner.  She helped out by doing her own research.  It appears that multi-vitamins could be the greatest risk of containing nickel and iron oxide.  Singular vitamins like Vitamin E and Calcium have very little risk that they may contain nickel and iron oxide. 

     I decided to help my Nickel and Iron Oxide Allergies by beginning a detox to get rid of at least some of the toxins that were causing my allergic responses.  I selected the Ultimate Cleanse.  Some people also take Iron supplements while using this cleanse.  But I decided to leave that out, since I am still researching whether Iron supplements are a problem with my Iron Oxide allergy. 

    I spent quite awhile researching online to find the answer. Most of the answers online seemed to be research results that were written for doctors.   And I try to sift through it to understand at least some of what is discussed.  And I have to say that my searching will continue.  Sometimes it feels like I find conflicting information from various research sources.


    Today's post contains a selection of quotes from sources 

    I discovered while attempting to find answers 

    Vitamin C and Iron

    The final, and probably least appreciated, factor in the effects of dietary nickel is absorption of ingested nickel. It has been demonstrated that vitamin C decreases absorption of dietary nickel, as does iron. Co-ingestion, or lack thereof, of these two nutrients can have a major effect on nickel absorption, even without alteration of the amount of nickel ingestion. Factors such as these highlight how little is understood about the ingestion and metabolism of dietary nickel and the factors that can affect it.

    Studies have found that taking a vitamin C supplement with each meal as well as eating an iron-rich diet can help prevent absorption of nickel in the body.  

    Other substances/physical states that interfere with nickel absorption from diet

    1. Vitamin C, orange juice, tea, coffee, milk inhibit nickel absorption in human
    2. Iron deficiency Anemia, Pregnancy and Lactation can enhance nickel absorption in human body
    3. Adequate iron intake and status can reduce nickel absorption from diet in human.


    Based on animal studies, some effects of nickel may be eliminated or reduced by supplementing with divalent essential metals. Weissmann and MennĂ© reported cases of nickel dermatitis as having improved following oral administration of zinc sulfate (ZnSO4).  One clinical study showed that the administration of ZnSO4 could improve the clinical manifestations of nickel contact dermatitis and could eliminate or reduce the majority of patch-test reactions; intolerance to ZnSO4 was not observed. The study showed that ZnSO4 therapy is efficacious and safe.


     Bromelain is used for reducing swelling (inflammation), especially of the nose and sinuses, after surgery or injury. It is also used for hay fever, treating a bowel condition that includes swelling and ulcers (ulcerative colitis), removing dead and damaged tissue after a burn (debridement), preventing the collection of water in the lung (pulmonary edema), relaxing muscles, stimulating muscle contractions, slowing clotting, improving the absorption of antibiotics, preventing cancer, shortening labor, and helping the body get rid of fat.


    Treating pregnant mothers, and then their infants, with select strains of probiotics -- bacteria present naturally in the body and sometimes added to food or dietary supplements to boost immune function -- may help prevent a skin condition known as eczema in children with a family history of allergies, particularly during the first 3 months of life, Dutch researchers report.
     In 2003 a study of over 100 children from families with a history of eczema also found a benefit from probiotic supplementation, and just last year a study noted that daily supplements of probiotic foods may reduce the risk of eczema in children by 58 percent.

    Fish Oil

    According to Mother Earth News,9 a German study published in the journal Allergy found people who have diets rich in of omega-3 fatty acids suffer from fewer allergy symptoms. A second study10 in Sweden found that children who regularly ate fish prior to age one had much lower allergies by age four. My favorite sources of omega-3 fatty acids are grass fed meat and eggs, and krill oil.


    Quercetin is an antioxidant that belongs to a class of water-soluble plant substances called flavonoids. Although research is sketchy, many believe quercetin-rich foods (such as apples, berries, red grapes, red onions, capers and black tea) prevent histamine release—so they are "natural antihistamines." Quercetin is also available in supplement form—a typical dose for hay fever is between 200 and 400 mg per day. 

    I thought this was interesting side information:

    Patients that are allergic to nickel may also be allergic to palladium, cobalt, and aluminum. 

    So I feel like I've got a great start to understanding which supplements and vitamins are going to help my Nickel and Iron Oxide Allergies.  Most Nickel Allergy sufferers will be reasonably safe in taking the general supplements listed. 

    In the case of my Iron Oxide Allergy, I still am not convinced that Iron supplements are a safe way for me to go.  For now, I will avoid that particular supplement. 

    Have you found some other supplements that help with Nickel Allergy?  I would love to hear about your findings!

    Until Next Time........

    Saturday, September 12, 2015

    What is Contact Dermatitis?

    Dermatitis is an inflamed skin disorder that usually appears in form of rashes. Like other skin disorders, dermatitis can cause immense discomfort to the affected person.  Contact Dermatitis is also called Eczema.

    The most noticeable symptom of dermatitis is a rash. However, at the initial stage, a rash will not  appear. Regardless, the affected person will experience allergic reaction; and with repeated exposure, the rash will appear.

    The Dermatitis rash can be triggered by an irritant, allergic reaction, or damage to the skin. The immune system, then begins attacking the skin layers causing the rash.

    As many as one half of all cases of allergic contact dermatitis appear to be associated with exposure to approximately 25 agents.  One of those agents is Nickel, which is found in earrings and other metal jewelry, and even in cell phones and other handheld communication devices. Nickel is the leading cause of allergic contact dermatitis in patch test clinics around the world.




    There Are Two Kinds of Contact Dermatitis

    Irritant Contact Dermatitis

    This form of Dermatitis is a non-immune reaction, which happens when the skin is exposed to an irritant chemical or physical agent (alkalis in soaps or solvents). It can develop after touching a strong irritant one time OR after repeated contact with the irritating substance.  Skin that has been previously injured is more susceptible to irritant contact dermatitis.  Think of this type of Dermatitis as "dish pan hands".  Approximately 80% of cases fit into this category.

    Allergic Contact Dermatitis

    This form of Dermatitis is a a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. It can develop after a person touches an allergy-triggering substance, such as nickel, cosmetics, poison ivy, bacitracin, neomycin, and oleoresin. Approximately 20% of cases fit into this category.

    Contributory or predisposing factors
    • Patients with a history of atopic dermatitis are at increased risk of developing irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis, it is not uncommon for such patients to develop contact allergy to common allergens, especially topical medications and nickel
    • Exposure to dry air (low humidity) makes skin more vulnerable to cutaneous irritants
    • Various occupations may lead to a increased risk of exposure and development of irritant and allergic contact dermatitis

    What is the best way to treat Contact Dermatitis?

    The first thing to realize is this - 

    there is no cure for Contact Dermatitis

    Contact Dermatitis is best treated as other autoimmune conditions.  Controlling the irritating symptoms presents the most demanding and immediate need.  Topical creams, steroids, and antibiotics are often prescribed for the rash and discomfort.

    But prescription treatments do not treat the cause of Contact Dermatitis.  To treat the cause, the person must reduce or totally eliminate exposure to the irritant that causes this allergic response.  Ignoring this side of the treatment will only cause a more extreme allergic response.  If you are not sure what the allergen/irritant is, then an allergy patch test will probably be needed (and performed by an allergy specialist). After the allergen/irritant is discovered, then lifestyle changes can be made, in order to reduce or eliminate exposure.




    Alternative Therapies Can Help 

    With Managing Contact Dermatitis


    Check with your doctor before giving a supplement to a child.
    • Avoid exposure to environmental or food allergens. Common foods that cause allergic reactions are dairy, soy, citrus, peanuts, wheat (and sometimes all gluten-containing grains), fish, eggs, corn, and tomatoes.
    • Eat fewer saturated fats (meats, especially poultry, and dairy), refined foods, and sugar. These foods contribute to inflammation in the body.
    • Eat more fresh vegetables, whole grains, and essential fatty acids (cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds).
    • Fish oil -- In one study, people taking fish oil equal to 1.8 g of EPA (one of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil) had significant reduction in symptoms of eczema after 12 weeks. Researchers think that may be because fish oil helps reduce leukotriene B4, an inflammatory substance that plays a role in eczema. If you take anticoagulants (blood-thinning medications), talk to your doctor before taking fish oil. If you're taking high-dose fish oil, make sure you use a brand that removes most of the vitamin A. Too much vitamin A over time can be toxic. The dose used in this study is very high; speak with your doctor to find the right dosage for you.
    • Probiotics (bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, 3 to 5 billion live organisms per day) may boost the immune system and control allergies, especially in children. In fact, studies show that taking probiotics during pregnancy, or early infancy, can protect against the development of dermatitis. However, the scientific studies are mixed; more research is needed to know for sure if probiotics will help reduce eczema symptoms. People with severely weakened immune systems should speak with their doctors before taking probiotics.
    • Evening primrose oil -- In some studies, evening primrose oil helps reduce the itching associated with eczema. However, other studies have found no benefit. People who take anticoagulants (blood thinners) should talk to their doctor before taking evening primrose oil.
    • Borage oil, like evening primrose oil, contains the essential fatty acid GLA (500 to 900 mg per day, in several doses -- amount of GLA varies by supplement), which acts as an anti-inflammatory. Evidence is mixed, with some studies showing that GLA helps reduce eczema symptoms and others showing no effect. People who take anticoagulants (blood thinners) should talk to their doctor before taking evening primrose oil.
    • Vitamin C (1,000 mg, 2 to 4 times per day) can act as an antihistamine. In one study, it helped reduce symptoms of eczema, but more studies are needed. Rose hips or palmitate are citrus free and hypoallergenic.
    • Bromelain (100 to 250 mg, 2 to 4 times per day), an enzyme derived from pineapple, helps reduce inflammation. Bromelain can have a blood-thinning effect. Talk to your doctor if you are taking blood-thinning medications.
    • Flavonoids, antioxidants found in dark berries and some plants, have anti-inflammatory properties, strengthen connective tissue, and may help reduce allergic reactions. The following flavonoids may be taken in dried extract form: Catechin (25 to 150 mg, 2 to 3 times per day), quercetin (50 to 250 mg, 2 to 3 times per day), hesperidin (50 to 250 mg, 2 to 3 times per day), and rutin (50 to 250 mg, 2 to 3 times per day).


    The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider. Always tell your doctor about any herbs you may be taking. When applying herbs to the skin it is important to make sure that you have no open wounds as serious infection can result.
    • Topical creams and salves containing one or more of the following herbs may help relieve itching and burning, and promote healing. The best evidence is for chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Chickweed (Stellaria media), marigold (Calendula officinalis), and licorice (Glycyrrhia glabra) may be helpful, although there is little scientific evidence to support the benefits. One study did find a licorice cream was more effective than placebo.
    • Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) cream can relieve itching. Liquid witch hazel can help with "weeping" or oozing dermatitis.
    • St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum), used as a topical cream, has shown promise in one double blind study. People with eczema who used St. John's wort on one arm and a placebo cream on the other saw more improvement with the arm treated with St. John's wort.
    • Other herbs that have traditionally been applied to the skin to treat dermatitis include Sarsaparilla (Smilax sp.) and marshmallow (Althea officinalis).

    When I realized I was dealing with Allergic Contact Dermatitis, I spent a lot of time trying to learn about it.  I really wanted a cure, but couldn't find anything about someone beating this auto-immune ailment. And it felt like a lot of everyday items contained my trigger-points, that are Nickel and Iron Oxide.  I truly had to start making some changes in my lifestyle and daily routines in order to reduce exposure to these ingredients.  But over time, all the pieces fell into place, and I have found a new "normal". 

    I feel most fortunate that my experiences with Contact Dermatitis is not more extreme.  Many people I have met who have the same ailment have much more extreme allergic response than I have.
    I guess it's all relative to your circumstances.  :)